Press Release

1 April 2005


General Debate on Civil and Political Rights Continues

The Commission on Human Rights this afternoon continued with its general debate on civil and political rights, and was presented with a draft of the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Violations of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.


General Debate on Civil and Political Rights


MANSOOR KHAN (Pakistan) said over the years, consideration of agenda item 11 on civil and political rights had become more of a formality and a ritual. The credibility of the Commission, questioned since long, had now been challenged. Secretary-General Kofi Annan had called for replacing it with a Human Rights Council. This was a critical moment in the history of this forum, which had much to its credit in setting normative frameworks that accorded primacy to human rights in international politics. It was truly a moment for introspection. There was a perception that the Commission had failed in its duty because its members included countries whose human rights record was far from perfect. But then which country could claim to be a paragon of perfection? In the view of Pakistan, the Commission's apparent failure could be attributed to two trend lines: one, the political considerations driving the Commission's activities. That in reality translated into strong and persistent perceptions of a coalition of the rich and powerful against the weak and the vulnerable. Or was that a generalization? The majority did not think so. Two, the tendency to exempt and exonerate "political favourites" even when they were clearly the worst violators of human rights or peddlers of policies of occupation, whether in Palestine and Kashmir, or the marginalized in any society.


JULIETH SAYEGH, of General Arab Women Federation, speaking on behalf of several NGOs1, said despite the ongoing negotiations between Israel and Palestine, the illegal construction of the separation wall, the confiscation of Palestinian land and properties and the demolition of private homes continued. These unjust policies did not only violate international law, but also denied the Palestinian people self-determination. In Iraq, the new so-called democratization era, supposed to offer freedom and democracy, had created chaos and insecurity. The current policy of imposing a model of freedom and democracy by threats and interference in the internal affairs of countries was now applied through the recent issue of a Security Council resolution pressuring both Lebanon and Syria to comply. A country could not be forced into obedience. Attempting to do so brought despair, hate and conflict. The fundamental dignity of people and nations was self-determination, a right that should not be violated.


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1Joint statement on behalf of : General Arab Women Federation; Union of Arab Jurists; International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination; World Young Women’s Christian Association; All India Women's Conference; World Movement of Mothers and International Educational Development.

For information media only; not an official record
For information media - not an official record